Building a Place for Women in Construction

As society moves toward empowering women in the workplace and replacing outdated job role parameters, we find increasing opportunities in previously male-dominated industries.

When we think of male-dominated industries, there are a few that immediately pop to mind, and for years construction has sat near lead position. However, when it comes to analyzing why this is, it becomes less and less clear as the days go by.

The construction industry is quickly becoming more automated and driven by technology. What was once a brute hammer and chisel industry many moons ago is now seeing rapid diversification and a need for skilled workers. Alas, a need meaning that we cannot afford to have 50% of the population put off from pursuing a career in the industry.

The responsibility of improving this sits within the current societal views and reservations at all levels throughout the industry. Much like any change in perspective, it involves work from every single cog. This is because, despite the increasing opportunities for women in the construction industry, it is clear that the reservations held by many women often surround the treatment they receive from co-workers and just how easy it will be to gain acceptance once arriving in the role.

Where are we at now?

Despite representing roughly half of the UK’s workers, women account for only 13% of the construction workforce, with as little as 1% on-site, which put into figures means that for every 56 male apprentices, there is just one female apprentice. Aside from this being a waste of a refreshing boost in skillsets and qualities that could be brought into the industry, it is a crying shame for women who are either not aware of the opportunities available to them or are deterred regardless.

Attracting Women into the Industry

Whilst inspiring change around fusty and outdated perceptions of what it means to work in construction largely centres around incremental changes within organisations, it stems back further than this. At the root of change is providing support and education initiatives before we reach career path defining moments that flit away because of fear or lack of support.

According to UCAS, there has been an increase in women taking construction-related degrees. However, this does not translate to the number of women joining the industry. Whilst in part this may reflect a branch off toward various other city positions that value engineering-type degrees, for some part this likely reflects a change in heart when it comes down to pursuing the next steps in joining the world of construction.

Whilst on the surface this may seem like a rash decision after putting in work to get somewhere, this reflects the power of the message that has been sent about the construction industry in the past. We have seen how powerful social media can be, and in a time where generational shifts in perception are attainable from our very pockets, a huge part in educating women of the vast opportunities developing within the industry before it’s too late, centres around positive and clear messages online. In a world where we are so influenced by what everyone else thinks, and the inflated fear that things we read on Twitter and Instagram can have on our perceptions, it is pivotal we use this to the industry’s advantage.

On a structural level, this may also come down to companies worldwide taking a look at how their organization is laid out. In a wide sense, this could come down to inflexible hours structures that haven’t kept up with the diversified parental work-life balance we see in families now. However, in order to not only encourage women to join the construction industry, but to retain those who do, these changes need to occur in the seemingly small, but motivationally impactful things such as an imbalance in toilet facilities, or safety equipment that have in past cases not considered the needs of women in the workforce.

Positive change in promoting equality within the construction industry is present, but it is not moving fast enough. In order to build the world we want, a world where women feel free to achieve exactly what they want to achieve, and what they can achieve without fear of judgement, harassment, or neglect, change starts with us all, in how we talk about careers in school, in terms of how we support our children’s aspirations, and largely how we act online. Change is possible, and change is happening, but it needs to fire from all cylinders to reach where it could be.

How Fourblue can help

Fourblue are expert recruiters within the built environment and can help shine a light on the vast array of opportunities available, and most importantly how valuable a career in construction can be for women. If you would like to get in touch to find out the steps you can make to kickstart your career, please get in touch at team@fourblue.com or give us a call on 01892 234999 for a chat.

 

 

Author: Merlin Parr